I woke up thinking about rape again (the way one does) and pondering my favorite insomnia-producing question: “What does it take to get people to believe rape survivors?”
Which is a variation on another question I think about, any time my blood pressure threatens to drop below aneurysm-inducing levels: “Why don’t men believe women?” The issues are related, not because men are never victims or women are never assailants, but because — okay, that’s for another post on another day. (And if you’re truly confused about the connection between rape culture and misogyny/sexism, well…you may wanna pause here to take a few deep, grounding breaths before reading on.)
I mean, How Very Nice that Heisman Trophy winner, top NFL pick, and accused rapist Jameis Winston is now giving inspiring speeches to middle schoolers, but wouldn’t it have been even nicer if the Tallahassee Police Department had believed the young woman who came to them 2½ years ago — and told them she had been raped only an hour earlier?
A full and timely investigation might have, at the very least, spared young Jameis the embarrassment of publicly claiming that being falsely accused of rape is a violent act of victimization equivalent to being raped oneself. (Yeah — but no, Jameis. Just no.)
[“YEAH-BUT-NO TO YOU, ALICE!” yells the strawman rape denier/enabler in my head. “IT’S ALL ‘HE SAID-SHE SAID’! WHY SHOULDN’T I BE SKEPTICAL! IT’S NOT LIKE THERE’S SOME LIST OF CASES DOCUMENTING A SIGNIFICANT AND LONG-STANDING PATTERN OF COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYERS HAVING A DICEY GRASP ON WHAT ‘CONSENTING ADULTS ONLY’ MEANS!”
What does it take for people to believe survivors? I ask again. While Bill Cosby may present an extreme case, the violent aggression and entitlement that supported his predatory behavior occurred not in the unknowable cesspool of a single diseased mind (well — not only) but within a set of cultural norms that encourage and protect such acts, especially for celebrities. [And before you even open your mouth, Strawman Rape Denier, two words: DARREN. SHARPER.]